DOD Needs Simulations to Shorten Acquisition Timelines, Official Says


Advancements in modeling and simulation technologies will not only help train warfighters, but “revolutionize” design, acquisition, sustainment and test, the official said.

Members of the defense industry working on modeling and simulation should focus on building tools that can be used across multiple different functions in order to not only improve training, but accelerate acquisition and fielding timelines, according to a Defense Department official. 

“Think about software that will allow us to support acquisition development, training of troops, and test all simultaneously,” Alan Shaffer, deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and sustainment, said Monday. 

Modeling and simulation is used to train warfighters on virtual battlefields. Advancement in modeling and simulation technologies powered by digitization and open systems should enhance training from individual warfighters all the way up to the force level as well as revolutionize design, acquisition, sustainment and test, Shaffer said during the National Training and Simulation Association’s annual Interservice, Industry, Training, Simulation, and Education Conference. 

“We are now seeing the evolution from single platform simulators and single purpose simulations to advanced multi-platform virtual systems,” Shaffer said. “But beyond that, there is also a strong convergence in modeling and simulation capabilities being driven by the technological revolution, and the digitization of the world, and the promise of open systems.” 

Shaffer indicated the department’s recently restructured acquisition framework—which includes a new pathway dedicated specifically to software—creates the potential for faster development timelines, but modeling and simulation is needed to realize this potential.  

Development timelines for major capabilities are still far too long, Shaffer said. But digital engineering, digitization in general, modular open systems architecture, and model composability are the “bedrock” for an agile acquisition framework and will “provide us the tools we need to cut development time,” he said. 

“We need the help from you to accelerate acquisition and fielding timelines and to provide greater depth in our analytic understanding necessary for design decisions,” Shaffer said. 

Shaffer also outlined four trends he sees as major influences on acquisition at the Pentagon: changes in who drives the market, a return to great power competition, changes to international standards by adversaries like China, and a shift in what drives the growth of technology.